To much chatter, Downtown’s new Urban Grocery and Wine Bar is set to open its door in less than a month. A physical, indoor complement to the popular biweekly Phoenix Public Market, the first full-service grocery store to exist Downtown in nearly three decades arrives with added trimmings.
One such primo accompaniment to debut inside the new grocery shop will be urbane coffee outpost Royal at the Market. Existing in a connected space, sequestered near the rear of the building, the small, clean, sharply designed nook shares pedigree with Royal Coffee Bar, the equally slick Downtown coffee pioneer at 2nd Avenue and Jackson Street.
The inertia behind Royal at the Market breaks down to Hayes McNeil and Christoph Kaiser, co-owners and principals of hip local architecture firm Plus Minus Studio. Though Kaiser is newer to the Royal fold, McNeil provides the link to the original outpost on Jackson St., co-owning that as well, with his brother-in-law Vince Huizar.
Known affectionately by Kaiser as the “coffee aficionado,” McNeil’s knowledge and expertise in what ultimately translates into an incredible cup of java is a primary reason for the original Royal’s success since opening a few years back.
“This will be a handmade space,” McNeil asserts, referring to Royal at the Market. “We roast all of our own coffee. Each cup is individually made using lever-pulled machines — you can’t just press a button and be done with it.”
At the new shop — registering in at a confined size of just under 200 square feet — Royal loyalists can expect the same distinctly sourced, self-roasted beans; cups all made to order; and varying selections of homemade baked goods prepared daily with equal dedication.
Design wise, “handmade” presents itself in varied examples. First and foremost, there is the choice of wood used throughout. The flooring, the countertops, the shelving, the giant floor-to-ceiling sliding door used for expanding and contracting available customer seating space as needed — all of it made from wood originating from the flooring of old truck trailers dating back to the 1930s. “We thought it fitting, with the market and everything,” McNeil winks, alluding to the fact that the trucks in question were specifically used to transport produce and other agriculturally sourced cargo. Each and every plank of recycled wood was retreated and reconfigured to conform to its new digs.
Another eclectic, high-brow design element exists with the lighting. Hanging above the main serving counter, a trio of black fixtures hold vintage (read: non-reproduction) Edison-era light bulbs — design touches also dating back to the early part of the last century. It is this continued juxtaposition between the “handmade” and new, modern and rustic, that permeates the space’s aesthetic.
Royal at the Market initially intends to be open six days a week, Monday through Saturday, from early morning until 8 p.m. For customers visiting during the adjoining Urban Grocery’s off-hours, a separate side entrance exists along the building’s western façade.
Optimistic, both McNeil and Kaiser confirm an official debut for the new coffee shop sometime within the next two weeks. It’s an opening planned to be individual of — and before — the upcoming Urban Grocery’s unveiling later in October.
All photos by Justin Lee